The Concept of "Ethical Responsibilities" in Relation to the Earth Constitution
Glen T. Martin
There are those who say that the Earth Constitution is lacking a list of
responsibilities. They claim that what the world needs is a constitution that
makes very clear the responsibilities of the citizens of Earth. They claim
that the world needs a document, a constitution, that lists not only the rights
of citizens but their responsibilities as well. For this purpose, they
proclaim, the Earth Constitution is not adequate.
This sort of flawed thinking both fails to understand the concept of democracy
and, furthermore, confuses responsibilities in the ethical sense from
responsibilities in the related (but not identical) legal sense. A list of
ethical responsibilities would have no place in a genuine Earth Constitution
since a constitution is a legal document specifying the mechanisms by which
decisions are made and who gets to make them (through elections, appointments,
etc.). Obviously anyone elected to any office within the Earth Federation
Government has a responsibility to perform that office to the best of their
ability, with honesty, integrity, and transparency. Responsibility in this
sense is intrinsic to the entire Constitution. The Constitution makes this very
clear. This means that the entire document is a document outlining the
responsibilities of those who govern.
Indeed, the very concept of democracy, from which the Earth Constitution
springs, is a social and ethical conception that already includes both rights
and duties. As American philosopher John Dewey puts this: "Democracy
signifies, on the one side, that every individual is to share in the duties and
rights belonging to the control of social affairs, and, on the other side, that
social arrangements are to eliminate those external arrangements of status,
birth, wealth, sex, etc., which restrict the opportunity of each individual for
full development of himself" (1963: 497). Rights and duties are built into the
very concept of democracy and do not need to be listed separately except for
educational purposes that unpack for learners the depth of the meaning of the
concept of democracy. It is the function of proper education to perform this
What of those citizens not under the responsibilities outlined for the
governors? A list of exhortations about what people who are not in
governmental roles should be doing would destroy the excellent character of the
Earth Constitution and turn it into another practically useless set of ideals
like the Earth Charter or the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both
these documents give us only ideals and exhortations, not mechanisms for
governing the Earth.
How then to we get a list of responsibilities for citizens? The obvious answer
that these critics overlook is that citizen responsibilities can and should be
legislated as duties under world law. A constitution cannot have a list of
these because it is up to the World Parliament to establish laws that
articulate the responsibilities of citizens. Are citizens responsible to vote?
To participate in politics? To participate at the local, regional, and global
levels? To interact with the agencies of government? To learn about the
nature of world democracy and their role in the self-government of humanity? A
list of moral exhortations for these things should not be part of any
constitution worth its salt, but the World Parliament can endeavor to answer
these questions through creating good laws (in some countries, for example,
voting is a legal requirement for citizens).
The philosophical basis for this distinction comes from philosopher of law Lon
Fuller. In his well-known book The Morality of Law, Fuller distinguishes the
"morality of duty" from the "morality of aspiration." The role of lawmakers
is to articulate wisely, clearly, publicly, and responsibly, the morality of
duty: that is, the basic minimum requirements that each citizen must follow in
order to create the "reasoned harmony" that is the function of law among the
These responsibilities of citizens and lawmakers do not exhaust the whole of
morality, for Fuller, for there is also the "morality of aspiration" in which
citizens identify the good or goods for their lives and pursue these goods.
Part of this morality of aspiration may be making exceptional contributions to
the common good through practicing exceptional citizenship and making
extraordinary contributions to society. But lawmakers cannot legislate for
this and it would be a mistake to attempt to do so. This is the role of
education and reasoned dialogue, not the job of a Constitution, nor of
The Earth Constitution provides a constitutional framework for the morality of
duty on a planetary scale. It presupposes both the duties of lawmakers and the
responsibility of citizens to actively participate in their world democracy.
It provides for a law-making capacity in which the duties of citizens may be
further detailed and elaborated. The Constitution is entirely complete in this
Hence, the Earth Constitution is not only properly formed as it is, it is the
ultimate vehicle for activating responsibilities among the citizens of the
Earth Federation. There is no other way to legitimately do this. If moral
exhortation is what is wanted, then the world parliament can create an agency
whose purpose it is to encourage the citizens of Earth to take responsibility
for governing and participating in government. Some of this has in fact already
been done by the Provisional World Parliament, including World Legislative Act
number 26 (the Education Act) in which school children worldwide will be
educated to take responsibility within the Earth Federation government.
Under this law passed for educational institutions worldwide insofar as they
receive support from the Earth Federation government, students will study not
only the Earth Constitution itself, but the nature of democracy, the
responsibilities of world citizenship, and the fundamental world problems that
the Constitution aims to address. Hence, the Earth Federation Government will
emphasize responsibility at every appropriate occasion. Nevertheless, to
repeat: moral exhortation has no place in the Constitution itself.
Responsibilities can and should only be legislated by law if the document is to
be a legally binding document. And the mechanisms for legislating
responsibilities are very clear in the Earth Constitution. Education of the
citizens of the Earth for taking responsibility in the sense of the morality of
aspiration will come from the educational function of the World Ombudsmus and
other government agencies as well as from educational institutions worldwide
under World Legislative Act number 26.
Indeed, the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) has not waited
for the future implementation of the World Education Act. At its events
worldwide, the WCPA passes out a card that details "Ten Principles of a Global
Ethics." The list, that we continue to disseminate widely, and that can be
found on my web site, illustrates the futility of trying to formulate a list of
specific duties that might be somehow embodied in a legal document like the
Earth Constitution. These are the principles of a global ethics as promoted by
1. Dialogue. A World Citizen develops the capacity for dialogue directed
toward mutual understanding. A World Citizen has the ability to listen
carefully to others, to thoughtfully understand their point of view, and to
respectfully dialogue in a process of increasing mutual understanding and
2. Nonviolence. A World Citizen affirms the principle of solving conflicts
nonviolently. As Mahatma Gandhi stated, there are dozens of ways to solve
conflicts creatively and intelligently, respecting everyone involved. World
Citizens promote creative, nonviolent problem-solving.
3. Human Rights. World Citizens affirm universal human rights and dignity.
All people have dignity because all people participate in the miracle that is
human life. We human beings are self-aware beings capable of freedom,
creativity, compassion, and justice. We have dignity that must not be violated.
World Citizens stand by the rights enumerated by UN Universal Declaration and
the Earth Constitution, Articles 12 and 13.
4. Democratic Laws. World Citizens affirm the rule of just, democratic
laws based on protection of civil liberties and human rights. They support
equality, freedom, and equal due process for everyone before the law.
5. Compassion and Kindness. World Citizens understand that reason and
dialogue must be complemented by compassion and kindness. World Citizens are
sensitive to the suffering of other people and animals. They act toward others
out of kindness and compassion. In Buddhism this is called karuna. In
Christianity, it is often called agape.
6. Unity in Diversity. World Citizens understand that the world is a
wonderful manifestation of unity in diversity that must be respected and
encouraged. We are all one as human beings and as children of the divine, and
we are all different from one another in races, cultures, beliefs, nations, and
religions. World Citizens affirm this principle of unity in diversity for the
7. Justice-making. World Citizens insist on promoting equal treatment and
due process of justice for all persons before the law. If laws are unjust,
World Citizens work to change them to protect everyone equally. Where people
are being marginalized, hurt, or discriminated against, World Citizens side
with the victims.
8. Sustainability. World Citizens are committed to transforming the
process of living on the Earth to sustainable, ecologically friendly forms of
economics, production, consumption, and patterns of living. World Citizens are
committed to making the Earth a decent place for future generations through
protecting and restoring our planetary environment.
9. Global Education. World Citizens are committed to promoting global
education with respect to all these ten principles. People everywhere should be
developing global consciousness and a sense of global responsibility.
10. The Earth Constitution. World Citizens understand that none of these 10
principles can be successful for the Earth without the rule of democratically
legislated, enforceable law for everyone under the Constitution for the
Federation of Earth: http://www.radford.edu/~gmartin/CEF.pdf
The first thing that will strike the reader of these principles is that they
are all open-ended because they are all aspects of the morality of aspiration
and would be inappropriate for a morality of duty as required by law-makers and
governments. You cannot require people by law to engage in dialogue directed
toward mutual understanding, for example, you can only require them to
negotiate, engage in diplomacy, or mediate. However, dialogue directed toward
mutual understanding requires an ethical good will and discernment on the part
of the participants that cannot be evaluated by the law. The law can only
dictate external behaviors, including external manifestations of
responsibility. It cannot dictate the ethical dimension of good will,
discernment, love, or compassion that are essential to ethics and genuine
Hence, the realm of moral responsibility requires a framework conductive to
ethical growth and inner transformation toward a good will to do what is right.
That is why in the recent Building the New World Conference at Radford
University, the WCPA initiated collaboration with the inter-spirituality
movement and the ethical growth movement so widespread today among concerned
citizens and leaders like Barbara Marx Hubbard, the Shift Network, and other
visionary movements (see www.btnw.org) .
Government can help create this framework, indeed, with good educational
policies both for children and for all citizens.
But to try to place any such stipulations within a constitution would be
inappropriate and irresponsible. This is true of all the principles listed
here as components of a global ethics. Yet they are all valid principles that
demand our attempt to participate in, and fulfill, these principles. They
demand our inner transformation toward ethical awakening and responsibility,
which cannot be legislated nor demanded by government. Both WCPA in the
present and the Earth Federation Educational System in the future can and will
promote these values, but the attempt to make them into law would be both
totalitarian, futile, and self-defeating.
Those who claim that the Earth Constitution or the WCPA need to be more
articulate about "responsibilities," rather than just rights, do not know what
they are talking about. The critics need to stop pontificating about
"responsibility" and begin taking responsibility for the future by working on
behalf of the Earth Constitution. At this point in history, there is no clearer
responsibility, as the last of these ten principles also clearly asserts.
The threat to the future is so immanent and so great (including climate
collapse and the threat of nuclear war) that affirmation of the Earth
Constitution becomes more of a moral imperative with each passing day. World
federalists of all sorts betray the future of the Earth and coming generations
with their refusal to endorse the Earth Constitution and take responsibility
here and now to start governing ourselves under that Constitution. Here lies
the essence of responsibility: not talking endlessly about it, but taking it
upon ourselves in concrete action for democratic world government under the
Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
1. Dewey, John (1963). In Social and Political Philosophy, Somerville and
Santoni, eds. New York: Doubleday Books.
2. World Legislative Act 26 (The Education Act):
3. Ten Principles of Global Ethics online:
From: worldwidepeaceorg@xxxxxxxxx [mailto:worldwidepeaceorg@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 1:10 AM
To: wwpoenglish digest users
Subject: wwpoenglish Digest V2 #76
wwpoenglish Digest Mon, 15 Jun 2015 Volume: 02 Issue: 076
In This Issue:
From: "Prof. Ernesto Kahan" <ekahan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [wwpoenglish] =?utf-8?Q?Re:_=5BUHE=5D_TR:_ANTES_DE_EXTRAER_M?=
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:28:34 +0300
Querido amigo Guy Crequie
Tu mensaje es muy emocionante, sobre todo porque eres mi amigo y admito tus
cualidades filosÃ³ficas y artÃsticas.
Espero que de todos modos, cuando te retires, yo pueda leer alguno de tus
nuevos textos porque traen conocimiento y generan pensamientos profundos
Tu intelectualidad es ejemplo y es luz en la superficialidad en las que se
mueve la sociedad actual
End of wwpoenglish Digest V2 #76